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Buford's book Heat - has anyone read it? [Moved from Not About Food]

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Need a book to read. thoughts?

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  1. I'm abut 30 pages from being finished. I think its terrific, would read it again. Hard to put down, don't get anything done around here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Karen

      I just went to a book signing for Anthony Bourdain and he said that he read it twice already - thought it was great. I bought it and cannot wait to read it and Nasty Bits AB's new book of essays.

      1. re: Sharon S.

        I read the New Yorker piece excerpted from it about taking the pig home to the apartment, with digressions into Tuscany, and adored that, so I'll certainly get it.

        We in Pasadena are having an incredible foodies-book weekend: Buford will be at Vroman's signing his book tomorrow night, and Bourdain will be there on Sunday. My father-in-law may have to take himself out for Father's Day dinner...

    2. Another good one is "The Reach of a Chef," by Michael Ruhlman (I think I got that name right -too lazy to check Google).

      2 Replies
      1. re: Akatonbo

        Ruhlman's two previous books in the same genre - The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef are both outstanding, and real eye-openers for the Walter Mitty chef wannabes (like me) who hang out here, wondering if we really could chuck the first career and start over again at the CIA. Although the pace is a bit slower, another good one is The Perfectionist, the story of Bernard Loiseau, the French chef who supposedly killed himself after losing a Michelin star - the true story is much more complex than that.

        1. re: Akatonbo

          I'm actually in the middle of both books. (Literally just set "Heat" down to check some email). Ruhlman's book is a great look at the CIA after his first visit 8 or 10 years ago or something, very introspective. Also talks about what it means to be a chef today, looking at the celebrity of chefs, why we're all so fascinated about them now, and begs the question, are we reaching a tipping point. Very easy to read.

          Heat, I'm enjoying thoroughly, and look forward to hearing Bill talk at a reading tonight. His writing is so engaging, so even when he gets to parts about how to braise meat, or why, or why we brown meats before searing, something many home and all professional cooks know, it's not mind-numbing, but rather exciting because he was excited to learn about it the first time. And seeing the kitchen world, and Batali, and other volatile chefs like Marco Pierre through his eyes, is fantastic. Good read for those in and out of the business.

        2. Buford did an hour-long interview on NPR's "On Point", today. It was very enjoyable. Use the link below to get the podcast.

          Link: http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/200...

          1. I'm about 2/3 of the way through and it is giving me great pleasure. On top of being a great lover of food, Buford is one flat-out entertaining and skillful writer. I find myself laughing out loud and wanting to read passages to my wife, just to share the enjoyment. I've learned a good deal through reading this book, and not just about food or Mario Batali, although it's quite illuminating on both subjects. You should also read his recent New Yorker piece on dessert.

            1. Follow-up: the Pasadena Food Maven Weekend was even more fabulous than I'd hoped. Buford was an incredibly funny guy, as is Mr. Bourdain of course, and they both kept their very large crowds (packed wall-to-wall in Tony's case) in stitches. I started reading "Heat" as soon as I got home Friday night, and finished it Sunday morning before I'd finished my first cup of coffee. Then that night I started the same procedure with "Nasty Bits".

              "Heat" has something in common with Bourdain's "Les Halles Cookbook": both books emphasize and explain the vast differences between home cooking and restaurant cooking - not just differences of degree, but of kind - and then proceed to give useful advice to us home cooks based on restaurant practice. I never realized, for instance, why I tended to wear myself to a frazzle cooking a big dinner until Bourdain explained the concept of "mise en place". I still have a tendency to under-organize, but at least now I understand what I'm doing wrong...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Will Owen

                i ordered the book 11/04. got it a few weeks ago. highly recommend it.

              2. Another good read on what it takes to become a top notch chef is
                Doug Psaltis' book 'The Seasoning of Chef: My Journey from Diner to Ducasse and Beyond' He worked his tail off and made his way into some of the best restaurants in NYC and worked with some excellent chefs. A very good read.

                I read Ruhlmans books before I started culinary school and I thought they were good. I also like Ruth Reichl and Nigel Slater, both are good authors, very different styles and good story tellers.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cooknKate

                  Rhulman's book, "the making of a chef" is pretty good. jeremiah tower's book, however, is a classic: best culinary narrative i've ever had the pleasure of reading. he spared no-one, least of all himself. fascinating reading. highly recommend you give it a shot.

                2. I'm with-in 50 pages of finishing it. It's a fun read. He tells the story well. I think I learned a lot of things that are fun to know, but nothing that I can actually use. Maybe a few commonsense things about being a restaurant customer.

                  I'm writing now because I just read the part where he and his wife are going out to buy a whole pig. A not yet butchered pig. Maybe dead. And it occured to me that the hero of this tale is the wife. Here's this guy who has a perfectly fine job that probably pays decently and lets them go out to shows and dinner of an evening and he quits to go be a Kitchen Bitch (his words) for 12 or 15 hours a day for little or no money and comes home smelling like a grease pit. Then he goes off to Italy to some small town full of reactionaries to learn more stuff and not some place like Florence or Balognia and she's putting up with all this. Wow.

                  Yeah, I know. Stand by yur man. Maybe he'll write a best seller. But now that he knows how to butcher a whole pig, can he make breakfast for two?

                  Still, it's a fun read.

                  1. LOVE that book. I couldn't put it down, and was SO sad when I finished it.
                    Quick read, super entertaining, lovely prose style and a fantastic look into professional food environments.